The Party

How The CCP Gets Things Done

The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor is a great, unique book. Many other books on China gloss over how their communist government works. In The Party, McGregor does what these books haven’t been able to and really digs into the CCP’s system. He talks about how the CCP controls the state, the military, and the private sectors, and throughout these discussions demonstrates the day to day workings of the party.

An example is the otherwise very solid  Three Faces of Chinese Power  in which the author David Lampton discusses the ways China is powerful while somehow ignoring how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) keeps control over China. That would be like someone discussing how America is powerful without talking about our democratic government. Something so foundational to a country’s situation can’t be ignored because you can’t truly have understanding without it. Even a book which explicitly attempts to discuss the CCP – China’s Communist Party by David Shambaugh – takes a very high level view of the internals of their system. He talks about how leading groups have promoted one idea or another but never goes into depth on who is in these groups, how they influence the system, or how they are chosen.

The CCP Is China, Inc.

One of the main themes of the book is how the CCP organizes itself. Other modern governments are based on the concept of checks and balances. In the US the legislative branch builds the laws but requires the executive branch to put them into action and the judiciary watches over everything. In China there is only one power base – the party. The state, the military, the judiciary, and much of the private sector is watched and directly controlled by the CCP. Even the parts of the country not directly under the thumb of some part of the CCP have their actions channeled by it.

An example of how the CCP works is in the state. The government of China is nominally separate from the CCP, but the CCP chooses all appointments in the government and in fact selects an CCP overseer for all important positions. For example, the mayor of Shanghai will have a party representative selected alongside, and the party representative has authority over the mayor. This is true for all important mayors, governors, and even most large corporation executives and boards.

In fact there are only two real checks on the CCP’s power. First are its internal controls. An over site  branch of the CCP is in charge of minimizes graft and corruption tries but is often overwhelmed. Second is only the citizenry themselves. Much of the CCP’s actions are taken with 1989 Tienanmen protests and the color revolutions in mind. These two checks, one weak and internal and the other the drastic step of revolution, are just obviously not enough to keep rampant corruption and abuses of power from happening.

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